Infants often undergo a hearing screen before they go home from the hospital nursery. Although this is common in many states in the United States, hearing loss can develop later in life, possibly due to frequent ear infections or other illness, head injury or exposure to loud music. On average though, only half of children diagnosed with hearing loss have a known cause. Approximately 15 percent of school children experience some sort of hearing loss, some are born with it, others detect a problem later in childhood.
Hearing is a critical part of speech and language development, as well as a big part of learning and developing social skills. Speech delay and little response to the sound of your voice can be early indicators, other potential signs for infants include a reduction in babbling and lack of interest in noise making toys. Babies who cannot hear well are more interested in visual cues, rather than responding to music or voice.
Common signs of hearing problems in children:
Lack of response: If you have to consistently raise your voice to get your child’s attention, they may not be ignoring you. Not responding to their name is a red flag, as is not being alarmed at a loud noise, because it may not sound loud to them.
Volume control. If volume control seems to be a big problem for your child, they may have a hard time hearing what is appropriate and subsequently talk too loud or too soft. Along the same lines, they may consistently turn the TV or radio up extra loud.
Watching closely. A child who makes it a point to watch your face closely, or slightly turns so that their ear is facing the direction of your voice could be trying to catch what you are saying.
Say what? If your child is constantly saying, “what” they may honestly not have heard you, or the entire sentence. Moderate hearing loss can cause children to mix up common sounding words or not hear every word.
What to do if you suspect a hearing problem
First of all, make an appointment with your child’s doctor for a check up. If there is an ear infection present, this can be treated before proceeding. From there, a certified audiologist can determine the extent of the hearing loss. A speech and language pathologist can also play an important part in your child’s success. They can measure and help develop language skills if that is necessary.
Most importantly, if you suspect your baby or young child has a hearing problem, be persistant even if one is not initially detected. Parents are usually right, get a second opinion if necessary. Early detection can prevent a multitude of problems later in life.
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